By MTN Qhubeka,
NICOLAS Roche (Tinkoff Saxo) took out the stage win on the 2nd day of racing at the Route du Sud. Roche’s team mate, Michael Rogers made it a 1-2 for their team by crossing the line 2nd with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in 3rd position.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had Merhawi Kudus put in a stellar performance, crossing the line in 5th place alongside Rogers, Valverde and a few others.
The stage was an extremely tough one with the riders having to tackle the Col de Tormalet, Col de Aspin and then still climb up to the finish at Val Louren. This parcours though was to the liking of Kudus as the young Eritrean flourishes on stages with such climbing meters.
It was still a pleasant surprise to have Kudus place in the top 5 today as nobody expected the young MTN-Qhubeka rider to be going so well after returning from his broken collarbone.
Despite an early breakaway, the race was all together with 20km and the final climb still to go. A select group hit the last few kilometers together with Ignatas Konovalovas riding really strongly over the 2 massive climbs to also be in contention and in support of Kudus still. It was Roche’s attack that would be the telling move of the day as the Irishman rode clear with 5km’s to go. With the pressure on behind the race blew apart in the finale and Kudus was strong enough to make the selection that would also allow him to pull on the best young riders jersey at the end of the stage.
Directeur Sportif – Michel Cornelisse
Today went very very well and we are extremely happy with our performance. Merhawi was able to come 5th in the stage, he is now 5th overall and the young rider leader. Ignatas was also very good and managed a fine top 15 place as well.
Rider – Merhawi Kudus
I really felt very good today and am happy with the result of today’s stage.